Identifying and Managing Project Risk

Essential Tools for Failure-Proofing Your Project

 Identifying and Managing Project Risk

Author: Tom Kendrick, PMP
Pub Date: March 2015
Print Edition: $34.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436080
Page Count: 400
Format: Hardback
Edition: Third Edition
e-Book ISBN: 9780814436097

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Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it ...

So began every episode of the classic TV series Mission:

Impossible, and what followed chronicled the execution of that week's

impossible mission. The missions were seldom literally impossible,

though; careful planning, staffing, and use of the (seemingly unlimited)

budget resulted in a satisfactory conclusion just before the deadline--

the final commercial.

Today's projects should also probably arrive on a tape that "will

self-destruct in five seconds." Compared with project work done in the

past, current projects are more time constrained, pose greater technical

challenges, and rarely seem to have enough resources. All of this

leads to increased project risk--culminating too often in the "impossible


As a leader of complex projects, you need to know that techniques

exist to better deal with risk in projects like yours. Used effectively,

these processes will help you recognize and manage potential

problems. Often, they can make the difference between a project that is

possible and one that is impossible. This is what Identifying and

Managing Project Risk is about. Throughout this book, examples from

modern projects show how to apply the ideas presented to meet the

challenges you face. This is not a book of theories; it is based on data

collected in the recent past from hundreds of complex projects worldwide.

A database filled with this information, the Project Experience

Risk Information Library (PERIL), forms much of the foundation for

this book. These examples are used to identify sources of risk, and

they demonstrate practical responses that do not always resort to brute


The structure of the book also reflects the changes adopted in

the most recent edition of the Guide to the Project Management Body of

Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) from the Project Management Institute

(PMI®, the professional society for project managers). The Risk section

of the PMBOK® Guide is one of the key areas tested on the Project

Management Professional (PMP®) certification examination administered

by PMI. This book is also consistent with the PMI® Practice

Standard for Project Risk Management and the topics relevant to the PMI

Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP®) Certification.

The first half of the book addresses risk identification, which

relies heavily on thorough project definition and planning. The initial six

chapters show the value of these activities in uncovering sources of

risk. The remainder of the book covers the assessment and management

of risk, at the detail (activity) level as well as at the project level

and above. These chapters cover methods for assessing identified

risks, establishing an overall risk plan for the project, making project

adjustments, ongoing risk tracking, project closure, and the relationship

between project risk management and program, portfolio, and enterprise

risk management.

It is especially easy on modern projects to convince yourself

that there is little to be learned from the past and that established ideas

and techniques "no longer apply to my project." Tempting though it is

to wear these hindsight blinders, wise project managers realize that

their chances of success are always improved when they take full

advantage of what has gone before. Neither project management in general

nor risk management in particular is all that new. Broad principles

and techniques for both have been successfully used for more than a

century. Even though many lessons can be learned from current projects

(as the PERIL database illustrates), there is also much to be

absorbed from earlier work.

As a graphic reminder of this connection, each chapter in this

book concludes with a short description of how some of the principles

discussed relate to a very large historical project: the construction of

the Panama Canal. Taking a moment every so often to consider this

remarkable feat of engineering reinforces the importance of good project

management practices--and may provide some topical relief from

what can be occasionally dry subject matter.

Risk in projects comes from many sources, including two that

are generally left out of even the better books on the subject: (1) the

inadequate application (or even discouragement) of project management

practices and (2) the all too common situation of wildly aggressive

project objectives that are established without the backing of any

realistic plan. These risks are related because only through adequate

understanding of the work can you detect whether objectives are

impossible, and only by using the information you develop can you

hope to do anything about it.

Identifying and Managing Project Risk is intended to help leaders

of today's complex projects (and their managers) successfully deliver

on their commitments. Whether you develop products, provide services,

create information technology solutions, or deal with complexity in

other types of projects, you will find easy-to-follow, practical guidance

to improve your management of project risk, along with effective practices

for aligning your projects with reality. You will learn how to succeed

with seemingly impossible projects by reducing your risks with

minimal incremental effort.

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